Pets and Children’s Mental Health

Pets are awesome. I could end the article right there. Dogs, cats, bunnies, whatever pet you have, or choose to have with your little ones, are going to be a positive influence (and awesome).
Pets make our lives better in so many ways. If you had a pet as a kid, think about how much fun you had on the best of days. Think of how many times your pal helped you by just being there with you in a time of need. I can remember a number of occasions that my little buddy just sat and listened to me. The relationship we as people have with our pets is a wonderful influence on us throughout our lives. And more often than not, that bond begins as a child with the first pet. Kids and pets are the perfect combination.

But what exactly about having pets helps children? There are lots of answers. Pets help reduce stress. They provide children with support and companionship, love and listening. Pets help all kinds of kids to make an emotional connection with another being. They make love happen. Pets can also help to improve child’s communication skills and problem-solving just by being there. Kids who talk through their problems to their pet have a greater opportunity to resolve these issues because of a pet.
The positive effects do not end here. Children living with pets get to experience empathy, sympathy, and connection. Pets offer a child an additional emotional outlet that, when handled properly, can improve self-confidence, good behaviour, independence and critical thinking.
And if that’s not enough, pets have a calming effect on children (and adults too!). Petting your little pal, talking with them, or even simply being in their presence helps to free a child’s mind. Spending time with a pet not only creates a closer bond between a child and his or her pet but it also reduces stress and signs of depression the child might feel.
We also should not forget to mention the significance of pets for children with ADHD. By taking care of a pet, a child with ADHD learns how to be more responsible, patient and more socially engaged with their pet. Physical activities involving pets also help children to burn off their excess energy which allows both the children and their parents to sleep more peacefully and get proper rest.
To read more about the positive effects of pets, check out “Pets and Our Mental Health” by Johannes Odendaal which is also available in Czech.